"That’s a tremendous sacrifice that we’re asking people to make, but it is absolutely necessary at this challenging time.”

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Get a smaller bird this year.

That’s the advice of Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, who is urging residents to avoid gathering with friends and family on holidays such as Thanksgiving to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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“We are asking people to stay within their households and to contact their friends and their families in a more virtual way,” Levine said Thursday. “And that’s a tremendous sacrifice that we’re asking people to make, but it is absolutely necessary at this challenging time.”

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She cited small gatherings as a driver of the recent spike in COVID-19 both in the state and nationally. In Pennsylvania, new daily virus cases have risen more than 50% over the past two weeks to an average of more than 2,000 per day, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The average number of people hospitalized in Pennsylvania with COVID-19 has more than doubled this month, though hospitalizations still remain far below the spring peak and Levine said the state’s hospitals and health systems are “not challenged” at the moment.

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